Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Phillies Take Huge Step Back In Opener Against Diamondbacks

GAME RECAP: D-Backs Demolish Phils 13-3

Welington Castillo homered, tripled and drove in a career-high four runs to lead the D-backs' offensive attack in a 13-3 win over the Phillies in Monday night's series opener at Chase Field. Nine different players collected a hit for the D-backs, who hit nine extra-base hits, including three triples, and won for the 11th time in 16 games to move to one game under .500. Starter Rubby De La Rosa won for the fourth time in five outings, giving up three runs in six innings. "We just came with everything like we do, got the big hit, got a lot of hits," D-backs left fielder David Peralta said. "We're just going to keep doing the same thing, having fun and playing ball the right way, and good things will happen." Maikel Franco went 2-for-4 with a home run for the Phillies, who had their three-game win streak snapped. Starter Aaron Harang took the loss, suffering his 10th defeat in his past 11 outings. "Well, that was the first bad game we've had in a long time, so it's bound to happen sooner or later," said Phillies interim manager Pete Mackanin, whose team is 16-6 since the All-Star break. "It happens to every team, so tonight it was us."

  • Harang's chances of being traded to a contender before the Aug. 31 waiver Trade Deadline are likely minimal at this point. He allowed 12 hits and eight runs in 5 1/3 innings against the D-backs. He has allowed 12 runs in 10 2/3 innings in his past two starts, and he has an 8.10 ERA in his past nine starts dating to June 4. He has allowed four or more runs in eight of those starts. "They were too comfortable up there," Harang said. "I've got to establish in and I didn't do that early enough. When they start getting comfortable at the plate it makes for a long day."
  • Franco is making his case for National League Rookie of the Year. He crushed a home run to center in the sixth that traveled an estimated 455 feet. "I just used my hands and stayed through to the middle, try to use the whole field, and I put a good swing on that," Franco said.
  • Phillies left-hander Adam Loewen replaced Harang in the sixth. It was his first appearance as a pitcher in the big leagues since July 6, 2008, a span of 2,589 days. He allowed one hit and two runs in one-third of an inning.
  • Phils second baseman Chase Utley has been placed on revocable waivers, according to FOXSports.com. He has to be claimed by 1 p.m. ET on Tuesday. If he is claimed, Utley has the right to refuse a trade because he has 10-and-5 no-trade rights, meaning he's a 10-year veteran with at least the past five years on the same team.
  • Philadelphia center fielder Odubel Herrera has a 13-game hitting streak, the longest by a Phillies rookie since Marlon Byrd's 15 in 2003.

The Phillies have been the hottest team in baseball since the All-Star break. They hope to get back to their winning ways Tuesday night against the D-backs at Chase Field. Phillies right-hander David Buchanan hopes to get back on the right track. He allowed seven runs in 4 1/3 innings last week against the Dodgers. He posted a 3.38 ERA in three starts in July, when he picked up wins against the Braves and Rays. Buchanan has never faced the D-backs. D-backs right-hander Jeremy Hellickson has never faced the Phillies, but more important than that he is hoping to turn around his luck. He is 0-2 with an 11.25 ERA in his past two starts after posting a 1.88 ERA in four starts in July.


Utley Placed On Waivers – Phillies second baseman Chase Utley has been placed on revocable waivers, according to FOXSports.com. The news is not surprising, but it is noteworthy. It is not surprising because teams place most of their players on waivers in August. If they clear waivers teams can trade them before the Aug. 31 waiver Trade Deadline. Teams like to have the flexibility. But it is noteworthy because the Phillies would trade Utley for the right deal. The report had Utley placed on waivers Sunday, which means he has until 1 p.m. ET on Tuesday to be claimed. If he is not claimed, the Phillies can try to trade him anywhere before the end of the month. If he is claimed, the Phillies have until 1:30 p.m. ET on Thursday to assign him to the claiming team or pull him back. If they pull him back at that point, he cannot be traded anywhere. Of course, Utley has 10-and-5 no-trade rights, meaning he's a 10-year veteran with at least the past five years on the same team, so he does not have to go anywhere if he does not want to. But there are indications Utley is more open to a trade than he has been in the past. "I would be more than happy to listen to them," Utley said Saturday. "I do love Philadelphia. I've had a great time playing here, but out of respect for them, I would definitely listen to them." Asked Sunday if he expected to be with the Phillies at the end of the season, Utley said, "Who knows?" The Angels and Cubs have expressed interest in Utley. The Giants had a scout watching Utley this weekend in San Diego, according to CSNPhilly.com. Besides Utley's 10-and-5 rights, a deal could be complicated. He is making $15 million this season, which means he still is owed about $4.5 million. He also has a $15 million club option for next season, which includes a $2 million buyout. The option automatically vests with 500 plate appearances this season, but Utley has only 259, so that is no longer an issue. But the Phillies would seem likely to eat some of that money to facilitate a deal. In the meantime, Utley continues to play. He hit leadoff and played first base Monday night against the D-backs.

Another Trade With The Rangers – The Phillies added some infield depth on Monday, when they acquired shortstop Tyler Pastornicky from the Rangers for cash considerations. Pastornicky, 25, was batting .283 with one home run and 19 RBIs in 53 games for Triple-A Round Rock this season. Pastornicky has played in 124 games in the big leagues, all with the Braves, for whom he posted a .243 batting average with a .295 on-base percentage and a .314 slugging mark. He was released by Atlanta in March and signed by Texas as a Minor League free agent. Pastornicky's season started at Double-A Frisco, where he hit .276 with 29 hits in his first 28 games prior to his promotion to Round Rock. He also played for Team USA in the Pan Am Games in July, leading the team with a .450 batting average and 9 RBIs in 11 games. Pastornicky was selected by the Blue Jays in the fifth round of the 2008 MLB Draft, and he was traded to the Braves in 2010 as part of the return for shortstop Yunel Escobar.

Rookie Of The Year? – Phillies third baseman Maikel Franco continues to make a strong case for National League Rookie of the Year. Home runs like the one he crushed in Monday night's 13-3 loss to Arizona at Chase Field should get a few more people to notice him. He ripped an 0-1 slider from D-backs right-hander Rubby De La Rosa in the sixth inning a projected 455 feet to center field, according to Statcast™. It left his bat at a scorching 107 mph. "It had a good sound to it," Phillies interim manager Pete Mackanin said. "I mean, yeah," Franco said, asked if it was one of the hardest hit balls of his career. "I just used my hands and stayed through the middle, try to use the whole field, and I put a good swing on that." Franco is not getting the attention of NL rookies like Matt Duffy, Joc Pederson and Kris Bryant, but he is worthy of comparisons. Franco does not officially rank among NL rookies in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage or OPS, but that is only because he did not join the Phillies until May 15. He is 25 plate appearances short of the 350 plate appearances he needs to qualify among them. But Franco would have the highest OPS (.828) and slugging percentage (.490) among NL rookies, if he qualified. He also entered Monday second in doubles (21), fourth in home runs (12), third in RBIs (47) and tied for fourth in walks (25) and extra-base hits (34). "It's not on my mind right now," Franco said of a potential Rookie of the Year candidacy. "I just try to come in and do my job and try to do the best I can to have a good game and help my teammates." But that doesn't mean he isn't following other NL rookies, either. "I mean, yeah, because most of the time I watch TV, I see what they're doing," he said. "But for me, just be happy for everybody, try to have a good game, a good season. Whatever happens, I'll take it." ESPN said Franco's home run was the longest by a Phillies player since 2012, when Jim Thome hit one over the batter's eye at Target Field in Minneapolis. "I remember that home run," Mackanin said. "That was a bomb." Franco's was nearly as impressive. And it could get a few more people talking about him, too.

The Phillies season has taken an unexpected turn for the better as they have officially climbed out of the bottom of the NL East with a record of 45-68. Given the departures, aging stars, injuries, and bipolar performances this season, this could still end up being the worst team in franchise history! All time, the Phillies are 52-50-0 on this day.

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